Preview: Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons

Date published: September 30 2016

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Tom Heathcote is the only change to the Warriors starting XV for Sunday’s clash with Newcastle Falcons at Sixways.

The fly-half returns to the side as Warriors chase a first win of the 2016/17 Aviva Premiership season.

In the first two home games, Warriors have picked up five points courtesy of two draws, but will be looking to go one better against the Falcons on Sunday.

Meanwhile, back row Matt Cox is named in the replacements and could be set for his first appearance of the campaign if he features from the bench.

Head coach Carl Hogg said: “Newcastle have evolved as a rugby side. They are well coached with a good defensive system but they look ambitious with ball in hand. It will be a good challenge on Sunday.

“We have a strong framework we play to and if we stick to it we’re very successful. We’ve caused a lot of problems for the teams we’ve faced and it’s about sticking to what we know and staying resilient under periods of pressure.

“It’s about making decisions in the right areas of the field that protect us as a side.”

Meanwhile, Will Welch once again captains the side as Newcastle stick with the same team which defeated Gloucester 18-13 at Kingsholm last weekend.

The only change to the matchday 23 sees David Wilson named on the bench just a week after re-joining his home town club from Bath, the 44-times-capped England prop having recovered from a minor calf strain.

Head coach John Wells said ahead of the Sixways showdown: “We’re going to have to score tries because, with the best will in the world, this Worcester team can score against anyone. They’ve got a set-piece starting attack as good as any in the league and they’ve got outside backs who can score tries for fun. We’ve got to make sure that what ball they do get, they don’t get any momentum as a result of that.

“They do have some guys that are not necessarily bad tacklers, but are probably not the best defenders, and we’ve got to try and exploit that.

"When those opportunities come along we’ve got to be ruthless, like we were last week. If we only get three opportunities we’ve got to score three tries.” 

Form: Worcester Warriors are without a victory in their last eight Premiership Rugby matches, however they have achieved a draw in each of their two most recent encounters at Sixways. Newcastle Falcons doubled their tally of wins so far this season with their 18-13 victory at Gloucester on Saturday. The Falcons have not won successive away games in the same season of Premiership Rugby since 2011/12. Worcester’s only defeat in their last seven Premiership Rugby fixtures with Falcons was 11-16 at Sixways in October 2013.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 James Johnston, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Josh Adams

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 David Wilson, 19 Will Witty, 20 Daniel Temm, 21 Michael Young, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Belisario Agulla

Date: Sunday, October 2
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Phillip Watters, Kevin Stewart
TMO: Keith Lewis

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